Days Past and Days New

Me in the red shirt, age 13, Dad bending down to fit in picture aunt Peggy on Dad's right aunt Linda to his left with brother Dave in front. - 1968 - Ava on his left with uncle Tom kneeling in front.
Me in the red shirt, age 13, Dad bending down to fit in picture aunt Peggy on Dad’s right aunt Linda to his left with brother Dave in front. – 1968 –
Ava on his left with uncle Tom kneeling in front.

Watching the movie, “The Outsider’s” last night (it’s an old movie), I know, but I’d never seen it. The movie was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and also included up-and-coming stars, including C. Thomas Howell (who garnered a Young Artist Award), Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon, Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, and Diane Lane. The film helped spark the Brat Pack genre of the 1980s.

Anyway Steph took a momentary break from her headphones and her room to come for a visit into the living room. We began talking and I mentioned that I was a greaser back then which ignited an interest from her.

“We’re reading that book in English now. Just wait ’til I tell Ms Ferguson you were a greaser!”

I am really ancient, I guess. I have actually been around since those halcyon days! However, I don’t remember the socs, only the Greasers and the Baldies (the more nerdy group, who have since become the more fashionable group).

My cousin named me a greaser while in the 6th or 7th grade because I already had long sideburns – like Elvis. And though I wasn’t allowed to wear Beatle Boots – I did have some black, pointy-toed shoes, that really stood out from my – ivory colored skin tight – stretch pants. That was the style in those days (early to mid ’60s.)

She asked about fights between the two factions.

I told her, “The fights were individual.”

I didn’t tell her of the brawl that was supposed to happen along the tracks, under the White Bear Avenue Bridge between the kids from the projects and their school Ames, and my school Hayden Heights. The two schools met at the larger Hazel Park Junior High earlier in the day for an orientation…that’s when the battle lines were drawn.

We, the tough kids from Hayden Heights showed up but Ames did not. That gave us a one up on them throughout junior high. And I bolstered my bad reputation by having 17 suspensions during those 3 tumultuous years for smoking and fighting. I hung out nightly with more greasers from the pool hall – A&D Billiards.

I ran away from home twice. The 2nd time I had run away with a girl past where I’m living now, Springfield. to Branson , Missouri. And Branson was not always a big entertainment site. Why when I was 16 and Carol and I were thrown in jail in Branson for speeding and driving a stolen car (they thought, but the car wasn’t stolen).

Junior high days were mostly spent trying to impress everybody – A friend told my oldest daughter that I was the “Fonz” of the school. I worked many a night and weekend for Dad. Nights were always spent at A&D and sometimes up at the trestle hopping trains — to nowhere and walking back to the trestle. Who would’ve known then that my 1st wife would have been met in the 8th grade? Or that I would meet with a tragic accident?

Always remember this kids, your life can change in the blink of an eye. There certainly are no guarantees. Up until my car accident I felt invincible but soon found out how wrong I was about many things.

Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107ยบ) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.


  • Hi I love your blog about you being a greaser. You certainly was a wild child ! You sound like you were one of those kids my mother told me never to hang out with. In High School I hung out with the brainy kids, hearing about the bad things you did as a kid is interesting. My how things change everything changes as we age, but for the better.


    • Thanks Linda, I was a nice, sweet church-going boy all through grade school, Sundays and Wednesday evening. Then along came junior high and it was as if another had taken over. I still had very deep convictions on my Christianity and what was right and what was wrong and my mind was oft times at war with itself. During those years anyway, the bad prevailed. I spent my 13th birthday in a juvenile detention home for car theft – though I never did steal the car. The guys I was with were all let go after the first court appearance, I was sent back to be made an example of; that’s what teary eyed Mom said.


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